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Angkor Archaeological Park

Country
Cambodia
State
Siem Reap-Oddar Meanchey
City
Angkor Village
Type of Location
Monument, Caves
About Location

    Angkor Archaeological Park, located in northern Cambodia, is one of the most important archaeological sites in Southeast Asia.

  Stretching over some 400 square kilometers, including forested area, Angkor Archaeological Park contains the magnificent remains of several capitals of the Khmer Empire of the 9th to the 15th centuries, including the largest pre-industrial city in the world. The most famous are the Temple of Angkor Wat and, at Angkor Thom, the Bayon Temple with its countless sculptural decorations.

Angkor Archaeological Park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1992. At the same time, it was also placed on the List of World Heritage in Danger due to looting, a declining water table, and unsustainable tourism. UNESCO has now set up a wide-ranging programme to safeguard this symbolic site and its surroundings.
 



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How to Reach

Angkor is located about 20 minutes to the north, by car or motorbike, from central Siem Reap. See the Siem Reap article for details on getting there.

 By Plane

  Siem Reap - Angkor International Airport (IATA: REP | ICAO: VDSR) is the second largest airport in Cambodia.
  The airport is less than 15 minutes from the town centre by taxi ($7) or motodop ($4). If you have an advance booking in a hotel, ask the hotel for a free airport pickup (in one of their tuk-tuks).

Update Beginning 1 April 2011, travelers departing Cambodia by air will no longer need to queue to pay the airport departure tax. The US$ 25 fee has been included in ticket prices since 21 January 2011, for departures on or after 1 April. According to the Phnom Penh Post, if you purchased tickets before 21 January for an April or later departure, you’ll still need to pay the tax at the airport
 

By Land
 
   Many companies, including (Phnom Penh Sorya Transport Capitol Tours, and GST Express) operate bus services to/from Siem Reap. Direct buses go to Phnom Penh ($10), Pakse ($30), Don Det in the 4000 Islands region of Laos ($27), Kampong Cham, Soung, Battambang, and Kor Kong. Advance bookings are advisable, and can also be sorted out by most travel agents and guesthouses for a $1-$2 fee. Buses generally leave between 7:00AM and 3:00PM but there is a night bus as well if you want to not spend the daytime travelling which leaves at midnight.

From Thailand, the nearest border crossings are at Aranyaprathet/Poipet, 3 hours to the north, and Hat Lek/Koh Kong on the coast. See those articles for information on how to get to and cross the border. As a result of recent road pavings, the roads from these border crossings to Siem Reap are in excellent condition. From Poipet, you can take a taxi (US$25 minimum, 2-3 hours, max 4 passengers) or an overcrowded bus (US$10, 3 hours, leaves when full, not as comfortable).


By Boat

A more expensive and more time consuming option from Phnom Penh ($35, 6 hours) or Battambang ($20-$25, 5 hours) is to take a Soviet style Hydrofoil across the Tonle Sap lake. These can be fantastic trips giving you the opportunity to view life on the lake, floating houses, working fishermen, and to get a sun-tan if you choose to sit on the roof of the boat. However, the trip can be ruined due to bad weather. Remember to use sunscreen and take a waterproof jacket. You will not be always able to access your luggage during the journey (sometimes the baggage is available, sometimes it is not). If you have the time, it is better to visit the floating villages as day trips from Siem Reap than to see them from the boat.    

Key places to visit
Angkor Wat, Phnom Bakheng., Ta Prohm, Banteay Kdei, Bayon


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Places to Visit

Angkor Wat

      Angkor Wat Located six kilometers north of Siem Reap, Angkor Wat is one of the largest of Khmer monuments. Built around the first half of 12th century by King Suryavarman II, the temple's balance, composition and beauty make it one of the finest monuments in the world.

Though 'Wat' is the Khmer (Cambodian) word for temple, the westward orientation of the structure is atypical of temples. Scholars believe that the architecture and sculptures are that of a temple where Lord Vishnu was worshipped but it was also built as a mausoleum for the king after his death.
 

Phnom Bakheng.

Phnom Bakheng The first temple-mountain constructed in Angkor, with a commanding hilltop location. Extremely popular (and crowded) spot for sunsets: allow half an hour for the sweaty hike to the top, and leave early or bring a flashlight for the way back. The final climb to the top of the temple is steep and dangerous at dark. Elephants will carry you to the hilltop for $20 per person (as of 2008-11-08), but you still have to climb the temple stairs on your own. Note that the sun does not set over Angkor if seen from here, and any visible temples are in fact quite far away. Also note that you are NOT allowed to climb Phnom Bakheng after 17.30 - hence make sure you arrive earlier. An elephant ride back down the hill will cost $15.

Ta Prohm.

  Ta Prohm Built during the time of king Jayavarman VII and is best known as the temple where trees have been left intertwined with the stonework, much as it was uncovered from the jungle. It might be considered in a state of disrepair but there is a strange beauty in the marvelous strangler fig trees which provide a stunning display of the embrace between nature and the human handiwork. This is one of the most popular temples after Angkor Wat and the Bayon because of the beautiful combinations of wood and stone. Black and white film photographers especially love this site because of this and most of the stunning postcard shots of Angkor's trees come from here; pop culture fans, on the other hand, may recognize a few scenes from Angelina Jolie's Tomb Raider. While the temple is very popular, most visitors follow a central route and the sides of the complex can be surprisingly quiet. Note that large sections of the temple are unstable rubble and have been cordoned off, as they are in real danger of collapse. As of 2010, authorities have started to restore Ta Prohm. All the plants and shrubs have been cleared from the site and some of trees are also getting removed. A crane has been erected and a large amount of building work is underway to rebuild the temple, much of it seemingly from scratch. Wooden walkways now block some of the previously famous postcard photos.
 

Banteay Kdei

  Banteay Kdei Sprawling monastic complex in the style of Ta Prohm. In poor shape, but slowly being restored.


Bayon

  Bayon Built in the latter part of the 12th century by King Jayavarman VII, Bayon is one of the most widely recognised temples in Siem Reap because of the giant stone faces that adorn the towers of Bayon. There are 54 towers of four faces each, totaling 216 faces. There is still a debate as to who is being depicted in the faces. It could be Avalokiteshvara, Mahayana Buddhism's compassionate Bodhisattva, or perhaps a combination of King Jayavarman VII and Buddha.
 

Right Time to Visit

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